CED Bulletin – February 2012

On February 3, 2012

Hello CED practitioners and supporters,

No-one can predict how the global economic crisis will pan out in New Zealand, but what seems certain is that the most vulnerable in our communities will be feeling the brunt of it for a long time to come. What also seems certain is that the resourcefulness of our sector to respond to these challenges is going to be tested like never before. It seems to me that strengthening communities needs to move quickly up the agenda.

Despite operating successfully for many decades throughout NZ, social enterprises are not generally well known. Yet interest and awareness of their social and economic benefits is growing. Both community sector organisations and local/central government are becoming increasingly interested in the role that social enterprise can play in addressing social disadvantage, support economic participation and strengthen local communities.

The Community Economic Development Conferences (CED), held in 2010 and 2011, have helped to build the momentum here. In recent years specialist support for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs has started to emerge including the CED Network, the Social Entrepreneurs Fellowship, theSchool for Social Entrepreneurs and the Social Enterprise Institute. Auckland Council considered a report on CED last year, and is currently working on the implications for the Auckland Council. If Auckland Council takes a lead – it is possible that other Councils around the country may follow suit. It may be a promising start to the year.

Great news re CED research funding

Also promising – just before Xmas, the CED Trust received good news from the Lotteries Research Fund that resource has been granted to carry out significant research about CED in the New Zealand context. The research will involve focus groups and one to one interviews with social enterprise practitioners around the country to ascertain what the success factors and challenges are for social enterprise in New Zealand at this time. UNITEC are partnering the CEDNZ Trust in the research – and discussions are currently being held with OCVS who are also planning research in this area. This feels like quite a coup as reluctance to invest in CED has oftentimes been put down to the lack of relevant NZ based research.

Growing the CED movement

Over the last month I have received several inquiries asking is a CED Conference is to be held in 2012? My answer has been that a conference requires considerable resource and commitment – and unfortunately that has not been forthcoming of late. There is considerable commitment – but minimal resource! Over the last six months the CED convening role has been carried out on a voluntarily basis – and this is, of course, unsustainable. Fortunately many CEDNZ Network supporters are keen to find a way to progress and grow this movement. With the blessing of The CEDNZ Trust, they organised two “think tanks” in Auckland over the November/December period. This wider support for the agenda is both welcome and encouraging. As the CED Trust cupboard was bare, BNZ provided resource for external facilitation and Telecom provided the venue. This was much appreciated. Finding a way to resource a convenor role will be pivotal to keep growing this agenda. The “think tank” process will continue in 2012 and I will keep you posted as to how this develops…it sufficient support is found, more events will likely be coming your way. Fingers crossed.

Two training opportunities…

Combining community sector know how and business skills can be challenging. Training to understand the social enterprise space has been needed for some time. In 2012, two opportunities are emerging…

1. Social Entrepreneurs School

The inaugural 10-month Social Entrepreneurs School Programme will commence in March 2012. The 2012 programme include tutorials, action learning sessions, business coaching and study sessions as key elements, delivered on a weekly basis, with breaks aligned to NZ school terms. The action learning programme delivers a practical blend of business fundamentals, funding and strategy concepts for social enterprises, and soft and hard skills. It will offer the practical how and why of social business, in a weekly hands on learning session setting that emphasises innovation and practical application. It is designed to help social entrepreneurs grow their social ventures and improve their effectiveness and social impact.

The School is seeking applications and expressions of interest from 15 -20 social entrepreneurs to become the first cohort of the programme from March to November 2012, which is designed to accelerate and enhance their respective impact on their communities. To make an application go to SSE application »

2. The Social Enterprise Institute

The Social Enterprise Institute differs from the SSE in that it takes an organisational rather than an individual approach. It is being established by social enterprise practitioner and CEDNZ Trustee, Lindsay Jeffs, to identify, support and encourage New Zealand’s not-for-profit sector to explore social enterprise opportunities to create wealth. The Institute offers a programme that enables a not-for-profit organization to identify and assess profit making initiatives that can assist the organization to become more financially independent and sustainable whilst retaining their values and a commitment to social, environmental and cultural outcomes. This programme provides an invaluable opportunity for any not-for-profit organisation which is considering developing a social enterprise or trading arm that is compatible with their organisations’ values, vision and mission. The programme leaders are experienced social enterprise practitioners who have run successful social enterprises in their own communities. The programme builds on the lessons they have learnt.

Participant’s employers will be requested to sign an agreement with the Institute to provide active support, including access to relevant organisational information to develop an appropriate business plan.

The course runs one day per week over a 20 week period and will be run in Christchurch from March to July 2012; and Auckland from June to October 2012. Partial scholarships are available. For further information and to enrol go to Social Enterprise Institute »

A defining characteristic of social enterprise – the asset lock

One of the contentious issues around social enterprise has long been the importance of the “asset lock”. The asset lock refers to both profits and physical assets of a social enterprise being retained for community benefit/ reinvested in line with their social or environmental mission – and not distributed to individual shareholders. That this is what distinguishes a social enterprise from social business and private sector enterprise. I share this view based on my three years experience working in the social enterprise sector in Scotland – where this issue has been strongly debated over the years. The prevailing view there is that the asset lock is fundamental to social enterprise. Check out this article from Michael Roy’ from the Yunus Centre for Social Business & Health Institutes for Applied Health Research and Society & Social Justice Research. He restates Muhammad Yunus’ position – that the defining characteristic of a social enterprise is it’s asset lock. The necessity for a definition, he says, is ‘that there are a number of organisations which describe themselves as SE’s but are frankly nothing of the sort’. Laurence de Marco from Senscot says “I stand with Muhammad Yunus – social aims and investor profits are incompatible.” Not everyone agrees and it is a debate that will no doubt continue in New Zealand as interest in social enterprise grows.

Charities Commission Information Sheet

The Charities Commission appear to support the above view in their recent information sheet Charitable purpose: Social enterprise where it says “Social enterprises can be eligible for registration as charitable entities if they have purposes that are exclusively charitable in accordance with New Zealand law and are not established for private profit.” The information sheet is well worth a read – and is another positive sign that this hybrid model is starting to gain traction in government circles.

Social businesses and private enterprises that successfully balance social, environmental and economic mission, while distributing profits to individual shareholders and directors, are, of course making a positive contribution to our communities. But they are not social enterprise. As we watch the global economy unravelling, largely due to unbridled greed, it seems to me that it is important that social enterprise is defined by a significantly different set of characteristics – and represents a more cooperative and equitable way of doing business.

New peak body for sustainable business

Members of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD) have formed a new Sustainable Business Council (SBC) in association with BusinessNZ’s Sustainable Business Forum (SBF). The new peak body will start with more than 49 member companies, including some of the country’s largest, like Fonterra. BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly describes as an opportunity to build “a strong collective voice” on sustainability led by business. He says “New Zealand has a strong interest in sustainability. It makes sense for us to have one consolidated voice representing the New Zealand business community, providing businesses with leadership, best practice and advocacy in an area that is now a key issue in mainstream business all over the world,” Mr O’Reilly says. I wonder if they will include support for social enterprise as part of their approach to sustainability, as the business sector has done in other parts of the world? Notably, the Westpac Foundation in Australia – that provides significant support for social enterprise development. Now that would be something!

Measuring social impact

Measuring our social impact is something that social enterprises can put in the too hard basket. Yet it is so important to demonstrate the difference that we have made in social (and/or environmental) terms. There are many roads to measuring social impact and finding the right one for the context is challenging. Take a look at the new economics foundation (nef) social accounting toolkit Prove and Improve it provides all the information needed for an organisation to assess its own social, economic and environmental impact. The toolkit offers a simple and straightforward route into an area which can seem complex and daunting. It is comprehensive while avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Other resources for measurement of social impact can be found at Social Audit Network or at the The SROI Network.

Clara Miller

If you came to the Clara Miller event that was hosted by the CEDNZ Network in Auckland in October 2011, – or if you didn’t and would like to know what she had to say – Clara’s PDFs and power point presentation are now available for viewing and printing at this address: http://www.giving.org.nz/node/8089

Living Economies and Timebanking

Living Economies promotes pathways to community resilience through promoting and supporting “real value” alternatives to money. These include local savings pools, local money systems, local food and time banks. Take a look at Living Economies website

I am now living in Raglan and have become interested in a timebanking initiative that is being started here. I am aware that there is a growing interest in timebanking and a number of timebanks are springing up around New Zealand. In a Time Bank, everyone’s time is equal, no matter what type of work is done. Credits are earned when you give your time and you can “buy” someone else’s service. Community cohesion is grown as anonymous strangers are transformed into friendly neighbours.

Lytelton people have pioneered timebanking in New Zealand. A timebanking national hui was held in October 2011 and there is now a national association. To find out how timebanking can work in your community check out Timebank Aotearoa

A final thought I couldn’t resist sharing…. I am just reading a Ghandi’s autobiography. When asked what he thought of western civilisation, he replied “I think it would be a good idea!”

That’s all from me for now, wishing you all the best in your various socially just and enterprising adventures

View the original CED bulletin – February 2012 »

 

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